The Roots of Meth PsychosisLiam Roybal
Pick a drug that people abuse, and the chances are high that some lasting form of emotional scar is attached to that abuse. It doesn’t matter what the individuals’ drug of choice is; all substance abuse cases take a mental toll on the user.
Sometimes it’s short-term memory loss – at other times, it might be small bouts of temporary depression. Many people experience challenges with social situations or achieving feelings of joy or pleasure.
The Meth and Psychosis Link
In some instances, it can even be long-term cognitive issues. However, very few substances have the potential for triggering full-blown psychosis as methamphetamines do.
This life-changing substance is capable of causing individuals to hallucinate and even create full-blown situations in their minds that are completely false. Normally, these cases end up being short-term issues – however, that doesn’t make them any less dangerous.
This article will discuss the existence of meth psychosis, what it is, and how it’s becoming more of a problem now than at any other time in history.
What Is Meth Psychosis?
Meth psychosis is the term used to describe a condition that happens as a result of long-term methamphetamine abuse or heavy use in a short period of time. Normally, psychiatric treatment is required for meth psychosis, depending on the severity of the episode.
The onset of meth psychosis is very unpredictable. Some individuals will develop meth psychosis overnight after an intense methamphetamine binge, and some will experience this condition over a longer period, with worsening symptoms as time goes on.
This is partially what makes meth psychosis so dangerous. How does this condition actually occur?
How Does Meth Psychosis Occur?
Meth psychosis can occur after a large consumption in a short period of time or as a result of long-term use.
Typically, if it happens in a small amount of time, it’s because the user consumed an especially large quantity of the drug within a short window. The intensity of the high becomes too much for the individual to bear mentally, and they’ll begin to experience unsavory thoughts that they become fixated on.
Common Delusions During Meth Psychosis
These can be thoughts of the individuals they’re with attempting to hurt them, that someone is lying to them, and even a friend and girlfriend are involved sexually behind the user’s back. Normally the user will remain focused on these thoughts, making them seem more realistic. The subconscious mind will link together certain events, conversations, and other occurrences that the user relates to the delusion, giving the situation more credibility.
They often become violent and attempt to hurt themselves or someone else. Normally, these events will pass after the high wears off but can pick right back up if the drug is used again. Continuous repeats of this process can lead to long-term mental health challenges.
When the meth psychosis happens over a longer period of time, it could be a sign of an underlying mental health disorder. Users will begin to become paranoid about a specific topic. This can often be some sort of conspiracy theory.
Classic cases of this will include thoughts of the government attempting to harm them or that some mysterious agency is trying to hunt them down. These users will develop over-inflated self-importance, imagining that someone is after them because they possess something of value or desire or are somehow “special” or “powerful.”
The Progression of Delusional States on Meth
These delusions will start small and gradually increase over the course of months. They may begin as small occurrences the user notices, such as someone following them or constantly encountering the same strangers.
Eventually, this gives way to full-blown psychosis, with individuals experiencing full-blown hallucinations and having visions of seeing people or things that aren’t there. These hallucinations can also be auditory and often are.
This form of meth psychosis is especially detrimental to the user because it grows into a large problem that encompasses the user’s whole life. At some point, individuals may point out the obvious, attempting to talk sense into the user who has psychosis.
However, this often leads the individuals to develop thoughts that everyone close to them is in on this “plan” and become isolated. It’s not uncommon for many of these individuals to end up in prison or worse because of the occurrence of this type of psychosis. The delusions are rooted that deeply in the person’s mind, and tragedy ensues.
What Are the Signs of Meth Psychosis?
There are multiple signs that point to meth psychosis. Normally, it’s not difficult to identify the presence of this condition in someone. Symptoms include:
- Talking about things that are far-fetched or out of character for the individual
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Speaking about the existence of people trying to harm them
- Expressing sentiments about not trusting the government
- Becoming hyper-vigilant and constantly paranoid
- Experiencing hallucinations of several types
- Talking about the need to protect themselves
Meth psychosis can lead to potentially dangerous and deadly situations. It’s important to be mindful of these signs and exercise caution around individuals who are experiencing this mental episode.
Mania vs. Substance-Induced Psychosis
Many people confuse the term “mania,” which is a manic episode, and meth psychosis. Actually, these two are very different.
Mania is a manic episode that happens as a result of bipolar disorder (manic depressive). This is the opposite end of the spectrum from individuals who are extremely depressed.
During a manic episode, individuals have elevated moods and can be hyper. They often make irrational decisions and act without restraint.
This doesn’t fall into the same category as meth psychosis, but some of the symptoms could potentially be related, such as mood swings and poor decision-making ability.
Is Meth Psychosis Common?
In the past, meth psychosis wasn’t nearly as common as it is now. This is because of the current ingredients used to manufacture methamphetamine on a commercial level.
Up until about a decade ago, most of the meth on the black market was formulated with ephedrine as the main ingredient. It caused an extremely energetic, hyperactive high with lots of euphoria.
However, the recipe changed because of the difficulty in obtaining ephedrine. Currently, manufacturers use what is known as the P2P method, which has unsavory side effects and an almost completely different high.
Many present-day users report that even small amounts of the drug can make them withdraw and become paranoid. Instead of socializing and being active like the normal meth high, people are sitting alone, often in a paranoid state, and can hardly communicate with friends.
Experts are blaming this directly on the manufacturing process. In many cities, users are entering mental health facilities in record numbers because of meth psychosis.
Some users have experienced extended periods, some as long as a full year to recover. In extreme cases, individuals even have to learn how to speak again and live on their own.
Schizophrenia and Methamphetamine Misuse
Schizophrenia and meth psychosis are more closely related than other comparisons. These two share many of the same symptoms and have an extremely close link when it comes to statistics.
In research conducted by mental health professionals, over 25% of the users who suffer from meth psychosis will end up developing schizophrenia at some point. Additionally, during dual-diagnosis treatment, a larger percentage of individuals who suffer from this psychosis were found to already have schizophrenia or some other mental disorder.
Because of this relatively common link, many users question whether meth psychosis is permanent.
Can Meth Psychosis Become Permanent?
While meth psychosis technically can’t become permanent, the longer a user struggles with this issue and continues to use it, the harder it is to recover from. Additionally, the longer this condition goes on, the higher the chances become for individuals to suffer from some other form of a more permanent mental health disorder.
It’s extremely important to seek professional help for meth psychosis. The most appropriate form of help is through a rehab facility that offers dual-diagnosis treatment.
Dual-diagnosis treatment is a form of therapy administered for co-occurring disorders. A co-occurring disorder is the presence of a substance abuse issue with an underlying mental health condition.
Successful Treatment of Co-Occurring Disorders
It’s entirely possible to overcome meth psychosis and make a full recovery. This situation is what’s known as a co-occurring disorder and is more common than you might think.
These types of events can happen with any substance and can include any type of mental health challenge. These conditions include dual-diagnosis therapy, which treats the mental health disorder at the center of the substance abuse issue.
When individuals treat one and not the other, this ends up being counterproductive and a sure-fire way to relapse. If the mental health disorder isn’t treated, conditions will resurface that may trigger a relapse.
Alternatively, if the substance abuse isn’t treated, the mental health disorder will continue to occur with subsequent bouts of substance abuse. Dual-diagnosis targets both simultaneously, allowing users to have a fighting chance at dealing with the real issues at hand.
Dual Diagnosis and Effective Meth Treatment
More and more rehab facilities are offering dual-diagnosis treatment as an option for recovery. In the past, it wasn’t as widely available. However, after analyzing the situation and relationships between relapse and recovery, physicians began to take note of the high percentages of clients returning to rehab.
This is stone-cold evidence that current treatments weren’t working as effectively as previously thought, and a new treatment approach must be taken. This new approach came in the form of dual-diagnosis treatment, which is currently proving to be incredibly successful at promoting long-term recovery.
However, it’s important to note no blanket recovery option allows clients to remain successful. Several elements of treatment must come together in order for clients to achieve long-term recovery.
Helping a Loved One Overcome Meth
One of these elements includes a strong support system from family members and loved ones. It takes an encouraging effort and the awareness that people you care about are on your side to promote long-term recovery.
It’s also important that loved ones hold the user accountable for any mistakes. Otherwise, they are technically considered sources of enablement. This is especially true in the days after treatment for continued success.
Is Lasting Recovery from Meth and Psychosis Possible?
Long-term recovery from meth and meth psychosis is possible with the right mental health treatment, substance abuse education, and a strong support system. At Icarus Behavioral Health, we offer all of these elements.
Our staff has years of experience in helping clients achieve lasting recovery, so we know what it takes to make it to this point. Through a strong combination of one-on-one therapy and group treatment, as well as medication options, we can help you take your life back.
To find out how we can help you with your recovery journey, contact a member of our admissions team today!